A detective’s testimony changes everything at murder trial

Story so far: Mark Carver is charged in 2008 with first degree murder in the death of Ira Yarmolenko. But he insists he didn’t kill her, and his attorney is confident Carver will go free.

Even after Mark Carver was charged, prosecutors deliberated about whether to try the case.

Investigators found none of Carver’s or Neal Cassada’s fingerprints on Ira Yarmolenkos’s car, none of their DNA on the bindings around her neck or on scrapings taken from beneath her fingernails.

The case came down to DNA in cells swabbed from three places on her car.wholesale jerseys

Those traces of DNA convinced prosecutors and investigators that they had the killers. They decided it was worth the risk of embarrassment if they lost.

One of the biggest holes was motive: Why would the men kill Ira? But prosecutors didn’t have to prove why. They simply had to convince jurors that they did.

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About the story

Elizabeth Leland interviewed investigators, lawyers, witnesses, medical experts and forensic scientists. She talked with members of Mark Carver’s, Neal Cassada’s and Ira Yarmolenko’s families as well as some of Ira’s high school and college friends. Many people agreed to talk for background purposes only.

With photographer Todd Sumlin, Leland retraced Ira’s last steps by the Catawba River and interviewed Mark Carver at Mountain View Correctional Institution in Spruce Pine.

Additional information came from hundreds of pages of court documents, police reports, trial transcripts and forensic science articles as well as from photographs of the death scene and evidence presented at trial. Researcher Maria David conducted online criminal record checks.

The trial prosecutors declined to be interviewed. Gaston County District Attorney Locke Bell answered questions a year ago but declined last month to talk about developments. SBI agent David Crow did not respond to multiple requests for an interview. Detective Derek Terry talked about the case in 2014 but declined all future requests.